Today’s reading is from the Gospel according to St. Luke 15:11-32
This parable of Our Lord Jesus Christ is read today as we are drawing closer to Great and Holy Lent as a reminder of God’s mercy and forgiveness to those who have squandered their inheritance. This is the main point of the story of the prodigal son. This prodigal asked for his share of the inheritance and he squandered it……he was left with nothing. This is further reinforced by the fact that he could not even share in the pig’s feed. Logic tells us that he had in every way imaginable become less than a pig. These words are especially harsh when we consider that pork was considered unclean according to Mosaic law.
But let us turn back to this prodigal who asked for his share of the inheritance. Now since we know this is a parable it must also follow that the inheritance is a symbol for something real. What does this inheritance correspond to? It could very well be a symbol of our life. What is the inheritance we are born with? Life itself. It is the greatest gift given to man. The problem is that we humans want our lives for ourselves. This is in fact what we see throughout our own world. When we take something that is not rightfully ours in the first place and we squander it, then we have stolen and more than that…..when we have taken a life that is not ours and used it improperly we have committed rebellion!
This same sin has been with us since the beginning, since our ancestors Adam and Eve decided to rebel against a God who had given them everything and left them without want. In our day and age rebellion is the standard. In fact we have become so rebellious as a people that even many of the “churches” are splitting because those who are debased have crept in to the churches and taught that the Bible itself says what you want it to say, no more and no less. They have perverted the word of God and lied to their people to fill their churches and justify their sins. After all who likes going to church when your faults are being pointed out?
But I want you to know something……God knew that Adam and Eve would fall and I submit to you that the loving father in this parable also knew that his son would fall. We can take comfort in that knowledge. If God knew that we would fall, then it follows that God has prepared for that fall. After all, our God loves us. Why would He let us fall for the sake of falling? That is an impossibility.
To me, the pig farmer is a symbol of Satan. He had the young man in servitude, working, sweating, struggling. But he would not so much as let him eat the food designated for the pigs! That is what life is like in the service of the demonic. It thrills us and strings us along, but in the end we are still left hungry and thirsty and broken and homeless. God allows us to wrestle away our life and our purpose from Him. He allows us to try to captain our own sinking ship and be our own king knowing that a few who commit rebellion will taste bitterness and defeat and will think to themselves “serving the Lord is much better, I will turn back to the warm comfort of life in fellowship with the God and Father who loves me dearly.”
But let us notice that the father does not chase after the young man. He cannot force the boy to do something that is not already in the boy’s heart. He can only wait for the boy to turn himself in the right direction, to orient himself towards home. In the spiritual life we call this orienting of ourselves repentance and without this turning back to God, we cannot be accepted. And let us also clarify that we cannot truly repent while we are still in love with sin. That would be like the son reminiscing of his life among the pigs while walking home to apologize to his father.
As we get closer to the start of Lent we must hate the former way of our life, and we must come before God in hunger and thirst of soul. Come to Him all of you who are weary and troubled and He will give you rest! He does not hold our sins against us, he does not regard our wastefulness, He loves us without condition. Return to Him and He will make you His children once again and shower you with all of His treasures, both now and forever. AMEN.